Casius’ Camp, Fort Dunstad, Riften: Agreement, Undercover operation, Sad find, Stories of Ragnar, A fight with my beast, A necklace and weird prophesy, Giant naughty bits, Riften, Sad Khajiit.
I kept hearing about a series of books telling the sordid tales of a Lusty Argonian Maid. I looked at a couple of editions and the writing was poor and the humour immature. The author is now a very rich man who owns a huge estate where lots of women wear costumes with rabbit ears and giggle a lot.
I thought I could write innuendo like that and it would be a good backup in case I failed miserably as Champion of The Divines. I have since realised a failure would probably mean I died in some horrible way so a backup plan is redundant.
So my comedic genius, as seen in both my Bear Bottom and Stiff Coccyx, will now be put to rest.
Until I find something funny that historians must record for future generations.
Today we are to meet with the Imperial, Casius Vernon, at his camp north of Whiterun. We will go via the main road leading west from Windhelm. I do not expect we will bump into Imperial or Thalmor patrols until we get close to the camp.
Rigmor and I are like a well-oiled machine. Wakeup, food, privy, wash and off we go. I wonder how many more inns we will sleep in before this is over?
I still have no idea how any of this is enough to concern The Divines. So far it is just the brutality of the Thalmor threatening the Empire. Nothing new or special about that.
Baa’Ren-Dar has mentioned several times that Rigmor has a destiny. He seems to have many sources of information available to him. Does he know something about her that he has kept quiet so far? Could Rigmor’s destiny be what concerns The Divines?
Aaaarghhh…my head will explode with all this speculation.
We set off for Casius’ just after 8:00AM.
I did not expect any problems convincing Casius. The letter is from the Senior Council. If he is a true Legion officer he would marry a hagraven if they ordered it.
The weather was fairly miserable. Rigmor loved it and said it was so much like a summer’s day in Bruma.
We encountered no problems at all and made good time. Just before we could be seen by Casius’ troops I pulled into an alcove of trees and told Rigmor we need to change into the Imperial uniforms.
She came out of the bushes and looked at me and got the giggles. She asked if I was wearing a skirt. I said it is a battledress. She said a dress really suits me.
It is on record one of the things I treasure most is Rigmor’s laughter. We were still outlaws and there was an ARMY of Imperials very close by. I asked her to control herself. She asked how she looked. Just to show I do not believe in leading by example I told her she looks ridiculous with her little skinny legs poking out the bottom. She then wondered if the Legion wears underwear. More of those delightful giggles that I wish we could fill her day with. I had to hide my smile and ask her to get control of herself and focus. One more wonderful giggle then she put on her “I am focusing!” face.
“The Sword” was too unique and not something a rank and file soldier would own. So I equipped the replica of Rigmor’s sword. Now we looked identical! Except I was two feet taller, had whiskers, tree trunk hairy legs and was twice as wide. Apart from that, identical!
We trotted into that camp and up to Casius’ command tent with Rigmor showing her “I am focusing” face and me looking for the quickest escape route.
I walked up to Casius and greeted him. He greeted me back and I handed him the letter and told him it is very urgent. He read it and realised how serious things were. I informed him I had already spoken to Yngol and that he sends his regards.
Casius accepted the words of the Senior Council without question. That made it easier for Rigmor and I. It also demonstrated something that has been exploited many times in history. Like Rigmor and I being made outlaws, Imperial command tends to obey without thought. Over the last few days have any of them asked why the legendary Dragonborn would be an enemy of the Empire? I felt guilt again for the Imperial soldiers I had to kill in Dragon Bridge. Fighting besides animals commanded by a monster that whipped a young girl to within an inch of her life for sport.
Casius walked up to Rigmor and called her a pretty young thing before greeting her. That replaced her “I am focusing” face with a smile that could melt a Deadra’s heart.
He invited us to sit and we gathered around a small table similar to that in Yngol’s tent. If you really look there is not much difference between an Imperial soldier and a Stormcloak. Take away the fleas, use a comb, wash at least the face and a Stormcloak could pass themselves off as an Imperial soldier.
I asked Casius why he has placed his camp on the hold border and told him that Yngol thinks it is because he planned an offensive.
The real reason was to try stop raiders crossing the border and ransacking farmsteads. He was glad it worried Yngol but the raiders were the problem, not the Stormcloaks.
Casius said his camp stopped raids in some areas but they control Fort Dunstad. This allows them to strike other areas and retreat back to the fort. He would have crossed over The Pale border to wipe them out but was afraid that might be viewed as an act of Imperial aggression by Dawnstar.
I really didn’t need to offer him help. He would speak to Tullius as the Senior Council ordered. I could have argued to myself that helping with Dunstad would help release more of his troops for our cause. The fact is I liked him and we did help Yngol, who I detest; resolve his problem at the Orc stronghold.
So I volunteered Rigmor and I for another possible suicide mission. A fort couldn’t be any harder to crack than an Orc stronghold. Yeah, right. Keep telling yourself that.
Casius was keen on the idea. It would be like the super-secret missions the good guys undertake in all the cheap story books. The difference being we could die and I don’t think a reader ever has.
Rigmor did not object or say a word. I think she was still stunned by “pretty young thing”.
We rode to the fort without any encounters. Casius started some heroic speech whilst the bandits threw fairly weak insults back. Rigmor and I dismounted, checked and tightened gear and got ready for the chaos to come.
I have said in earlier entries that I am well above average with a two handed sword. Nowhere near Rigmor’s skill though. Problem is I am rusty in its use. I much prefer board and sword. So I decided I would use “Unrelenting Force” and a few fireballs to reduce the bandit numbers before engaging in melee. This left Rigmor and Casius to be the shock troops and engage in melee for a while before I got there. This should be fun! We might have to retreat screaming for our Mummies but it would still be fun!
It was a long fight, easily as long as the Orc stronghold, but we got through with minor cuts and bruises. Casius wanted to check out the fort’s inn for hiding bandits so in we went.
Then I remembered why I rarely use two handed swords. They suck in a tight space with us and them squashed together and no swing room. I battered my opponent to death with my pommel. Rigmor always manages and slices and dices. Once again my respect for her sword skill increased.
After disposing of the cowards we went downstairs to find the inn owners and their little girl between them dead on a bed. There was no sign of torture or rape. Just senseless slaughter of a defenceless family. A needless end to their loves, hopes and dreams. The little girl was probably playing with her favourite toys this very morning. The parents touching hands and stealing quick kisses when they could. I fought down my rage. There was nothing I could release that thing inside me to kill and mutilate. It will have to wait.
Rigmor wanted to know why. Casius blamed it on dark times. This type of senseless slaughter has occurred somewhere on Nirn every day of every week of every month of every year of every era. It is not dark times. It is the nature of the beast disguised as civilisation. Not wanting to destroy the party atmosphere I kept that fact to myself as we went upstairs for a talk.
Stepping over the bodies and entrails we made our way to a table for a chat. Like the inn was still open and the innkeeper would soon be over to ask us what we want to drink. Too bad he is dead with his family downstairs!
My inner monster wanted out but I am the boss so took a few breaths, told it to shut up and listened to what Casius had to say.
Rigmor asked Casius if he served under her father. Casius told her he had and that Ragnar had taught him many things. He said Ragnar’s troops were unparalleled on the field. They had fought at the Battle of the Red Ring together. That was the battle where Titus Mede II and his army retook the Imperial City from the Thalmor occupying force.
That could have been me inside Titus Mede IIs armour that day. It is a suspicion I have concerning “The Forgotten Hero” as told in an Elder Scroll and recently revealed by a Moth Priest. Somebody who risked all to tell the truth as all historians should. That theory is so deep, so disturbing, so soul destroying I am yet to write my reasoning in this journal. I have to be careful and gather all evidence and try not to ignore anything that counters that theory. One day I will either have enough to put evidence to paper or to openly dismiss it. One thing I will state. The last task undertaken by “The Forgotten Hero” concerned the Clockwork City and a plan to recreate the giant mechanical monstrosities of previous eras. He was successful in that mission and nobody has heard from him since. That was very close to the day I awakened.
Casius also said Ragnar saved his life in Hammerfell.
Casius asked Rigmor if she would like to hear about the “Battle of the Red Ring”. Rigmor said yes.
What followed was typical glorification of a battle. You can find such depictions elsewhere. I will not dirty my journal with it.
The important part of the entire diatribe was the fact Ragnar received a field decoration from General Jonna. I guarantee that fact has been erased by Imperial hands from Imperial held records to appease the Thalmor scum.
Rigmor asked Casius about the time Ragnar saved his life. Unlike his fairy tale description of “The Battle of the Red Ring” he did not leave out the reality of war and battles in this tale of horror.
Casius said he left the army after the concordat and had settled in Northern Skyrim. He was going to use his army pension to buy a mill when he heard about the Hammerfell Resistance. Casius offered his services to the Redguard High Command. He was accepted and given command of a mostly volunteer battalion. They were attached to the Fifth Army. That army had been pushing deep into Thalmor held territory when the concordat was signed leaving the Redguards without Imperial help. Casius’ battalion was rushed north to help with the retreat out of Dominion controlled territory. Panic ensued and it turned into a rout.
Beings with souls and an ounce of decency would have allowed the mostly civilian masses to leave unmolested. But these are Thalmor. They do not have such things.
The Dominion forces descended on the panicked masses and slew all before them. Men, women and children.
Poor Rigmor! This was a hard lesson to learn following Casius’ flowery description of the other battle. She asked incredulously, “Woman and Children?”
Casius mouthed that bullshit again about “Dark days”. In fact it was just another day on Nirn.
Casius described how the Fifth Army was scattered but had taken on thousands upon thousands of refugees as they all ran for their lives. How the baggage train alone was over five miles long. How rivers ran red with blood. Casius stated the simple truth. It was a massacre.
They had to ford a major river to get to safety but were stranded on the Dominion’s side. It seemed all hope was lost and the level of desperation rose. The remaining soldiers fought a desperate rear guard action with about 2000 men led by Casius. There were over 50,000 refugees trying to cross the river.
Boats were arriving but not as many as needed and not as fast as required. Women tossed babies into the boats in the hope they at least survived. Grown men devoid of all hope and witnessing such desperation and terror openly sobbed. Many just stood there and offered no resistance as the Thalmor relentlessly hacked and slashed their way through the masses.
Casius returned to some flowery descriptions but in this case I will repeat them as I could tell they were of importance to Rigmor. They also encapsulated sweet revenge. Something we all like to hear about and savour. Too bad that was not Ragnar’s motivation.
Casius said everybody heard a sound like rolling thunder. Like the sky itself was being torn apart. All other noise ceased including the crying of children. The Thalmor stopped mid strike and held their swords still and gaped in the direction of the sound. Then the banner of Ragnar the Red was seen coming over the crest of a hill. Golden long horns sounded. The thunder heard was the bashing of sword on shields. Three thousand Nord berserkers voiced their battlecry as they charged into the Dominion troops. Outnumbered three to one the Nords slew the Thalmor to cheers from both banks. The Thalmor routed and ran.
Here the Nords slaughtered defeated troops running away. But this is different. It was not revenge. It was not naked mindless brutality. It was Ragnar and his men acting as judge, jury and executioner.
Casius described it in terms of revenge. Wrong! Once again the actions of Ragnar are polluted by misrepresentation.
The crimes of these retreating cowards were innumerable. The evidence lay all around. Thousands upon thousands of dismembered, disembowelled and decapitated civilians. Defenceless men, women, children and even babies. There was no denying their guilt. There was only one punishment that fit their crimes.
So Ragnar and his men showed no mercy as justice was served. Not revenge. Justice!
Casius said Ragnar rallied the remaining Redguard and commanded the rearguard till every single survivor made it to the other shore.
Casius said he owed Ragnar a debt of gratitude he could never repay.
Casius told us that Ragnar was eventually blamed for the massacre. We heard similar from Yngol. Imperials were willing to dirty the name of one their greatest heroes. I don’t even think it was ever at the bequest of the Dominion. I think those traitors did it as they thought the Thalmor might be pleased.
The rage, the beast within was rampaging in my head. The sacrifices of all those brave men, including Ragnar, were the reason the traitors who changed history still had their fucking lives. Still had their freedom. Still had families to go home to, whores to fuck, banquets and balls to attend.
I looked at Rigmor. Looked at her brown eyes. Inwardly laughed at how comical she looked in that Imperial helmet. Looked at those lips I yearned to kiss. Listened to her laughter over and over in my head where it will forever be cherished. There was beauty in the world. Rigmor saw it in weird shaped rocks, the colour of butterflies, the exquisite site of mother and child of all species. She had shared all those wonders with me. I used these things to quell the beast. To bring myself back to the fore of the body and mind it occupied. There is a time and place for that thing to show itself. NOT NOW!
All this took mere seconds. My internal battle invisible to the two sitting opposite me.
I don’t know if I missed any of the conversation.
Casius pledged that if Rigmor ever needed him to testify to clear her family name he would be there in a heartbeat. I admire him for his conviction but the high and mighty in the Imperial City would never even consider listening to the petty concerns of a peasant girl.
Thankyou Casius for making it clear to Rigmor she should be very proud of her father. The more who confirm that fact the more likely she will believe it. Ragnar was a great man and his poor daughter has to battle the lies contained in official documents and archives with the words of those who knew him.
Rigmor said she now understands why her father never talked about the war. She thanked him for the offer to testify.
Casius stated what this alliance is all about.
“The enemy of my enemy…”
Rigmor finished with the question, “Is my friend?”
Sometimes Rigmor. We will have to wait and see.
We left the inn of death and rode back to Casius’ camp.
We approached Casius’ command tent and he announced to Rigmor he had something to give her.
As part payment for the debt of gratitude he owed her father he gave her a necklace. It once belonged to his mother and he begged Rigmor to take it.
Rigmor graciously took it and commented on the beauty of the stones.
Casius said they were “Black Diamonds”.
Like me, Rigmor had never heard of Black Diamonds and said so.
Then Casius, like some carnival fortune teller, announced matter of fact, that Rigmor would know what to do with them when the time comes.
OK, weird. Time to back away slowly!
I thanked Casius and asked Rigmor if she is ready to go.
She was so I told her we will be going to Riften to see if Baa’Ren-Dar had any information on Diamond Ridge.
We ditched the Imperial uniforms, mounted our horses and left Casius’ camp.
My plan was to retrace our rout to Kynesgrove. We should get their just after sunset. We will then decide if we feel like going to Riften via Shor’s Stone or stay at that lovely inn again. The ride to Riften would be in almost pitch blackness so there was that to consider as well.
As with the trip to Casius’ the ride back was uneventful except for a giant crossing the road.
We stopped and let it cross without getting too close. They are usually docile unless something threatens their mammoths or cattle. The exceptions are those corrupted by the Stormcloaks to fight for them in the civil war. Brutality is used to make them submit to special giant handlers. More corruption at the hands of Ulfric. Allies or not, I will refuse to fight alongside Stormcloaks if they have enslaved giants with them.
I asked Rigmor what she thinks is the scariest thing I have ever seen.
She thought for a second and said I must have seen so many things she doesn’t know.
I said to her it was a giant without his loincloth.
“Oh” she said. Then a few seconds later she asked earnestly, “How big was it?”
I just laughed and kept riding.
She tried a few more times to get an answer before giving up.
We reached Kynesgrove at about 6:30PM. Rigmor dashed into the inn for a trip to the privy and came out announcing she was ready to go. So we proceeded to Riften.
It was as dark as I thought. Once again Blaze would have been handy. I should not be so ungrateful to Dogmeat. He has handled everything thrown at him like the thoroughbred Skyrim hack he is.
Nobody had yet moved into the fort we depopulated the other day so that was good.
We arrived at Riften at about 8:30PM.
We stabled the horses, entered hold and made our way to the “Temple Of Mara” where Baa’Ren-Dar was to meet us.
We found him sound asleep on a bed in the corner of the temple. I felt guilty waking him. If he was asleep this early in the evening he must have been very tired.
Always polite he greeted us warmly and asked if our travels were successful. I told him we did all we could and that they have the letters. They just have to convince their respective leaders.
Baa’Ren-Dar said he spoke to someone living in Shor’s Stone. He said he has seen the Diamond Ridge mine. It is high up, on the border of Skyrim and High Rock. Baa’Ren-Dar warned us the journey is very perilous. He also warned us it was closely guarded.
I looked at the location Baa’Ren-Dar marked on my map. It was quite a journey and since I did not know the terrain I could not hazard a guess as to travel time.
I asked Baa’Ren-Dar is there anything else we should know. He said somebody is trying hard to keep the location a secret. He didn’t know why.
I cheerfully said we are about to find out. Baa’Ren-Dar advised we take lots of supplies as it was uncharted territory.
As usual he almost pleaded with me to take care of Rigmor. I assured him as best I could that I will take care of her. Knowing how much he loves Rigmor it must be agony to send her into danger and not be there as well. Even if I was not head over heal in love with her I would risk my life to protect her. That is what I pledged in Riverwood what seems like months ago. Reality was that was only six days ago.
I have fallen so deeply in love with a woman I have known for less than a week! Is that normal? Is there a set time frame? I don’t know but if you think about when I awakened I have known Rigmor for almost half my life. Take that you nagging doubts!
Baa’Ren-Dar warned me that if we find Sigunn I must make sure Rigmor’s emotions do not get the better of her. I told him not to worry and I will take care of her.
In reality this is what would happen if we found Sigunn dead or abused like Rigmor was. Rigmor’s beast mode, even if it is really just rage and nothing more, would be allowed to have free reign. My beastie would join her and we would rip castles and forts apart with our bare hands if needed so we could slaughter every Thalmor we could find. We would be their worst nightmare and we would not stop till they are gone from Skyrim and Cyrodiil. They had better prey we find her alive and relatively unharmed.
He pleaded again for us to be careful. He gave Rigmor a long hug mixed with tears and promises. He walked out the door looking like he had the weight of Nirn on his shoulders.
I waited for Rigmor’s sobs to change to crying and finally sniffles.
Come on, let’s go to the Bee and Barb and if Kareeva does not throw things at us and kick us out we can have a good meal, maybe a bath and we can rent a room.
Rigmor agreed but only if I slept on a chair next to her bed this time and not outside in the corridor.
Kareeva actually welcomed us. She said our fight the other day has meant locals who saw it are happy to tell their accounts to others, many who have not been in there for a long time. The usual payment for stories is mead and many get several dry throats exaggerating a fight that took mere seconds into an epic battle with fireballs and conjured beasties and other such nonsense. Kareeva’s profits have been impressive the last few days.
We were fed a fantastic meal and given the biggest room for free.
Rigmor enjoyed a steaming hot bath in the little room set aside for it in the basement. I took the opportunity to scrub her armour and clothes a bit just to take some grime off them.
When we got to the room Rigmor simply collapsed on the bed and like she had done several times lately, fell asleep almost immediately and in her armour. I was wondering how hard we are pushing her. At the end of the day it seems her energy reserves are gone.
I was about to wedge a chair against the door when there was a polite tap on it and Talen-Jai assured me it was only him. I opened the door to find him holding two piss pots which he handed to me. I said I had already checked and there was one under the bed. Kareeva’s orders he explained. I could argue with her if I wanted. I politely declined and thanked him.
When everything was done and I had almost finished this journal entry Rigmor called me over. I asked her what was wrong. She asked, “How big was it?”
I just laughed and returned to finish this entry. Rigmor was already fast asleep again.
I do not know what time I fell asleep. I know I was trying to stifle the occasional chuckle.